Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Pink Robot Geeky and Vintage Skirts!

I have decided to develop and refine Pink Robot as a brand, by launching my first proper product. I have always been a "butterfly crafter"- I blame Pinterest and wonderful publications like Mollie Makes!- so my plan is to start with one product and expand. 

One project I've really enjoyed is making cute little unusual skirts for my girls. I have never really chosen to dress them in traditional "baby pink" clothes, so I love the reaction they get from people. The skirts are nothing like the ones available on the High Street. It's great to know that nobody else will have the same one, making it special and unique. 

I have 2 ranges- one range crafted from modern fabrics (which are unusual and largely geeky!) and another range made from reclaimed vintage and retro fabrics. 
Records, from the original range
Here is a selection from the vintage & retro range
Amazing Return of the Jedi vintage Star Wars fabric
Roland Rat- a blast from the past! 
Who doesn't love Postman Pat?!
Beautiful, bright Care Bears fabric for all you 80s children!
Hollie Hobbie- cosy for winter
People have been asking if I will branch out to making other items along the same geeky/ vintage theme. The answer is yes- eventually. I want to establish Pink Robot through making customers happy with my skirts first, then I'll move on to include other products in my range.

Click here to visit Pink Robot on Facebook! 

There is a giveaway on the page at the moment, to win a skirt PLUS one for a friend. Enter now! Competition closes on Sunday 12th October. 

Friday, 3 October 2014

My First Craftivism Experience

Scotland feels alive at the moment. Tens of thousands of people are engaged in politics for the very first time, and people are individually becoming more socially responsible. In the last couple of months, I've found myself taking part in marches and rallies, signing petitions and spending spare time researching current issues. 

While looking online, I discovered a form of activism which appealed to me immensely... craftivism. Craftivism (craft + activism) is a term coined by Betsy Greer in 2003, and the movement of quietly protesting through craft is moving throughout the world. I loved the idea of being able to send a message to people in my local community, by other methods than shouting loudly. Inspired by Sarah Corbett of Craftivist Collective, in her book- A Little Book of Craftivism, I embarked upon my first craftivist challenge.
My first mini protest banner!
In the run-up to the Referendum, "Bairns Not Bombs" was a favourite message of mine, and a reason why I supported Scottish independence. It seemed crazy to me to spend a ridiculous sum of money on renewing Trident (which incidentally is situated around 30 miles from Glasgow... eek) instead of investing money in things such as childcare. 
A burst of colour in the bushes

Here is my little cheerful-looking banner, tied to local railings. I hope that my little act of craftivism will provoke thought and discussion in anyone who happens to stroll past and see it. There are so many possible craftivism projects, and I look forward to starting my next one. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Kawaii Craft Swap: September

I've been absent from the #dicraftswap for the last two months, so I was very excited to discover that September's theme is Kawaii! Regular readers will know all about my love for all things Japanese, and the bright, cute trend of Kawaii is no exception. When exploring this theme on Etsy and Pinterest, I found that the possibilities stretched far beyond what I already knew about, and I am now slightly obsessed by adding a face to everything! 

My recipient was Jenny, who writes the lovely blog Pretty Column and runs an Etsy shop under the same name. I wanted to go all out with the Kawaii theme, so I thought, why not make the receptacle Kawaii too? Jenny said that she loves Studio Ghibli, and especially My Neighbour Totoro... so here is my Totoro shoebox!
Kawaii shoebox- Totoro
When signing up to the #DICraftSwap, Hannah asked us all what the word Kawaii meant to us. Jenny said that Kawaii to her meant cute things, so I set on a mission to create a box of cute Japanese treats for her. She mentioned that making a non-cute item into something cute appealed to her, so I crafted this little watermelon pincushion from felt. I also made a happy toadstool brooch from felt. 
Adorable watermelon pincushion
Happy toadstool brooch
One of the first things I thought of was a little set of greetings cards, with Kawaii figures made from pretty wrapping paper. As a blogger, Jenny obviously enjoys writing! Oversized heads, tiny bodies and stylised "Kawaii" faces led to this little collection: 
Set of 4 Kawaii greetings cards
Jenny writes about her love for crafting and geekery, so I wanted to include some useful items in the box for her, which would tie into these passions. I chose bright, cheerful buttons and made her a peg set- I thought they would help her display or keep together ideas for her next crochet and knitting projects.  For similar reasons, I made her a bookmark featuring a very cute Japanese girl charm. I put together a collection of Kawaii beads and buttons for her (who can have enough beads and buttons?!) and added some cute Matryoshka post-its. 
Cute bright button pegs
Cute bookmark

A kawaii collection of beads and buttons for future crafts
Awww! Matryoshka post-its
I spotted these earrings in my collection of things I had already made to sell at craft fairs, under my crafty name of Pink Robot. The bright orange bubble-style beads fitted right in with the Kawaii theme, so into the box they went. 
Kawaii orange bubble beaded earrings
One thing that comes across very clearly from Jenny's tweets and the content of her Etsy shop is that she is head over heels in love with amigurumi! Well, after scouring the Internet looking at the crocheted cuties, so am I! Unfortunately, my craft skills do not yet extend to crochet, so for my "bought" gift, I chose this little dragon, by My Little Beasties! I really wanted to keep him for myself... isn't he adorable?
My "bought" gift... dragon amigurumi!
I was very excited to receive my Kawaii parcel from Rhiannon, who writes her blog, The Sparkly Panda. She sent me these very cute little crocheted stars, which I can sew backs on to and make into anything! In my package, I also got some sparkly kawaii stickers, post it notes and a "to do list" pad. All very kawaii indeed!! 
My lovely kawaii package

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Craft room/ guest room transformation!

A few months ago, I wrote about a "junk room" in my house which I hoped to transform into a craft room/ guest room. I'm delighted to say that it's now almost finished, and what a difference! 
Before... eeeeek!
The room was completely unloved- broken, squeaky floorboards, badly-fitted and damaged
skirting, holes in the walls and ceiling. No wonder we ended up filling it with all our junk, and making it "the box room". However, I was desperate for a proper space to create things in. Somewhere I could keep my sewing machine out and functional, and store all my crafty bits and pieces neatly and logically. With a new baby, we also needed a guest room- and somewhere to escape to without waking our daughter if our new addition was rather noisy in the middle of the night! 

So here it is! Getting the floorboards fixed, walls plastered and skirting replaced used up almost all our budget... so the rest of the transformation was well and truly frugally done. 
Presenting my functional guest/ craft room
I chose this striking colour scheme in contrast to the darker hues in the study next door. It's a very small room, and I feel that the yellow combined with the light carpet really brighten the space and make it feel bigger. The sofa bed folds out to make it a functional guest room, but looks pretty as a comfy sofa in the meantime. The room is full of bargains and thrifty finds. The bedside tables were old pine ones we had in storage, painted to tie in with grey chalk paint. I found the tripod lamps in an Argos clearance sale for only £5.99 each. I have admired almost identical lamps from other retailers for upwards of £20, and I think these could certainly pass for more expensive. 
Well, I do love tea!
The pictures I chose are from various places. I want all my wall décor to be original, and not just the generic, mass-produced art which adorns many walls. I love this quote from J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, and I bought it from a graphic designer called Abbie Imagine, on Etsy. The sewing machine print was free, printed at home (read about my favourite printable websites here) and I found the typewriter advert a couple of years ago at an antique fair for only £2. 
A great philosophy!
This cute little antique plate was upcycled by Heart Vintage, and I bought it from her Etsy store. I love the wartime "Make Do and Mend" philosophy, and it's one I do try to stick to. Where better to display this than next to my sewing machine? I thought this antique advert for Tootal sheets was totally appropriate in my guest room, and I found it on eBay for a couple of pounds. There are loads of vintage and antique adverts to be snapped up for next to nothing on eBay, if you know what theme you are looking for.  
Antique Tootal advert
Of course, I still have work to do! Here is my work station at the moment. The old pine desk needs painted to tie in with the rest of the room, although I did re-upholster the seat using a scrap of fabric from my stash. Shelves need to go up to house my growing vintage fabric collection, and I still have a few pieces of art ready for the wall. Nevertheless, I love my room, and already I've spent far too many wonderful hours crafting away in it. 
Still a bit of work to be done!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

6 ways with wallpaper samples

Wallpaper samples are one of the most cost-effective, versatile craft materials. It's fairly easy to get your hands on some beautiful ones for free- listen out for local retailers throwing away old sample books, or ask your friends and family to save their samples for you once they have finished with them. There are countless ways you can make use of your samples, and here are 5 of my favourites. 

Create unique furniture piecesDecoupage is a very effective and striking craft technique, which involves pasting a design to a piece of furniture, then protecting it with layers of varnish. you can paste any flat image, from wallpaper, wrapping paper, magazine pages and even napkins.  I found these projects on Pinterest, for inspiration:
Upcycled floral decoupage side table. I could do this out of all those flower seed magazines I get...
Decoupage side table
Coat hooks decoupage patterns. £10.00, via Etsy. great idea for downstairs bathroom at sw
Gorgeous patterned coat hooks
Fabric Covered Dresser Drawers - Use Hello Kitty fabric?!
Unique dresser
Frame them- much like my fabric DIY wall art, this is an easy and thrifty way to dress your walls. Simply choose the pattern you like, and frame it. Voila- a unique piece of art which ties in perfectly with your room's decor. It's also a great way to use amazing, expensive designer wallpaper in your room, when you can't afford to do a whole wall!

Wrapping paper and gift tags- I've previously written about how wrapping a gift well can really add to its perceived value, and make the recipient feel like you have made a huge effort. Using wallpaper instead of wrapping paper is an easy way to add luxury- it's typically thicker, with a more sumptuous texture. Look at these cute gift tags, made for next to nothing! 
gift tags made from wallpaper samples
Gorgeous, and thrifty!
Beautify your drawers- An easy, quick way to add luxury to your desk or dressing table is to line your drawers with gorgeous wallpaper. It makes them look extra fancy and expensive. Just cut your wallpaper sample to size, and pop in the bottom of your drawer. 

Revamp a lampshade- You can pick up old lampshades in almost any charity shop for pennies, so why not give one a makeover using fancy wallpaper? I love these pretty floral vintage designs, and it looks fairly straightforward to do. 
retro vintage flowers...: Flowers vintage wallpaper lamp-shade ~ draw flowers
Funky retro lampshades
Make new (recycled!) storage- Old boxes, bottles and cans covered in wallpaper can make for unusual and beautiful storage solutions. Tie them into the décor of a room, or make them a feature! I've seen this done with old formula cans, and I think they would be the perfect size for storing stationery. 
Storage idea for crafts using cans Get Free gift Vouchers For Cheesecake factory, Visa and more
I'd love this for my craft room!
~ vintage wallpaper covered hat boxes ~ just one filled with my most favorite craft supplies would make me very, very happy. :)
You would never guess these were plain boxes and wallpaper!
I've started collecting and hoarding wallpaper samples, so now I need to find a cute way to store them! If you have any other good ideas for using wallpaper creatively, I'd love to hear them. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A New Name

I have decided to rename my blog to Pink Robot. 

I started out writing Make Thrift Love Life as a separate hobby to my crafting and Etsy shop. As my blogging experience has developed and evolved, I have found myself writing a lot about my craft projects, and using Twitter under the name of Pink Robot. I realised that it makes perfect sense to have my brand name consistent across all social media. 

I will be changing the blog's URL in a couple of days, giving my regular readers a chance to bookmark the new URL. It will become: 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

5 Newbie Tips When Using Chalk Paint Powder

When money is too tight to buy new furniture, it's amazing what paint can do to transform your existing pieces. Painted wood furniture is so fashionable just now, it's easy and it's cheap. Right up my street! Totally inspired by the latest series of Kirstie's Fill Your House For Free, I thought I'd give it a go. 

After a little research, I knew that chalk paint would adhere to wood much better than ordinary paint, and needed much less prep and priming (I'm impatient when it comes to crafts- I just want to get to the good bits!) Annie Sloan appeared to be the most popular brand of paint for this type of project, but when I went online to order some, I baulked at the price. Yes- the colours were beautiful, and yes- the reviews were excellent, but I couldn't justify spending that amount of money on one colour of paint, for one project. Back to the drawing board. 
Pine lamp table transformed!
I stumbled upon a solution- chalk paint powder, added to regular emulsion. Great- this meant I could use up all my old paint as well! Since I love a feature wall, I actually do have loads of tins of paint sitting in the basement. I opted for a 300g tub of chalk paint powder, from Molly's Paintbrush, for £5.95. There are several sellers out there, but I found Molly to be really helpful and knowledgeable when I was asking my "newbie" questions. 300g is about the right amount for 1 litre of paint, but can be mixed up in smaller amounts for smaller jobs. 
Chalk paint powder

I have found it to be incredibly easy to use, and have successfully painted a few of my existing pieces of furniture so far. Here are my top 5 tips for complete beginners: 
  1. Only mix up the amount you need. Even leaving the mix overnight can result in little tiny hard lumps in the paint, which are a complete pain to smooth out.
  2. Do not attempt to paint MDF/ flat pack furniture! The finish is flat, and the paint scratches off quite easily. I tried primer underneath, but it's still not great. I love how you can still see the wood grain underneath chalk paint, and this is missing from MDF. 
  3. Work in small areas at a time, making sure the finish is smooth before moving on. 
  4. Lightly sand between coats. It makes a big difference! 
  5. Remember to add water to the chalk powder before adding it to the paint. I forgot to do this the first time, and ended up with a lumpy mixture. 
I definitely think that using chalk paint powder is a better alternative to buying ready-made chalk paint. It's cheaper, and gives you the opportunity to use up your old emulsion. Bonus!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Free wall art!

I can't believe I didn't know sooner about the fabulous, free, printable wall art available online! Not having spending money to spare really doesn't have to mean bare walls. A quick Google search will reveal countless free printables, and all you need to do is print them out and frame them. Easy! Look at these beauties which I have added to my walls over the last couple of days... 
Mix tape print from Indie Fixx

Can you believe this was free?!
This mix tape print is from a great website called Indie Fixx. Digital artists gifted prints to the public as part of a project called "Feed Your Soul". The last print was made available in 2011, so it seems that the project isn't running any more, but there are still loads of beautiful, unique prints ready to download. 

My Etsy "favourites" list was full of old sewing machine prints just like this one, retailing for around £15 each. I can't believe that I got this one, for the price of using some black ink! This was actually two free smaller pictures, from The Graphics Fairy. I pasted them on to a black Word document, arranged them like this and printed it out. The Graphics Fairy is absolutely amazing, and has hundreds of free printables. 

Another find from The Graphics Fairy is this adorable little bird, now proudly on display in my bedroom. I think he ties in really well with the other Asian- inspired items in the room. 
Cute bird and cherry blossoms!
Here is a list of other websites offering free printable art- posters, clip art, printable tags and labels, art for your blog and much more. If you know of any other great ones to share, please do. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Double buggy revamp

After Betsy's arrival, I decided fairly quickly that I definitely needed a double buggy. While I loved the idea of carrying my new bundle in a wrap while pushing my toddler in her single buggy, it become apparent that this solution would not be hugely successful on longer trips. Carrying my warm and toasty newborn in the beautiful weather we have enjoyed recently became a little uncomfortable after about an hour or so!

I did my research; I drive a tiny Yaris, so I needed something compact to fit in my boot. I looked at online forums and spoke to friends and family and even visited shops, to find the perfect model. Eventually, I decided that the Phil&Ted's Sport buggy was perfect... aside from the price tag of £500+! Luckily for me, a double buggy isn't something people tend to keep once they have outgrown the need for it, so they are widely available on the second-hand market. 

I found one on eBay for £100- a fraction of the price of buying new. At that price, however, there were a few cosmetic issues. The black and grey colour combination was also not one I'd have chosen- while functional and unisex, I prefer cheerful colours! 
"Before" picture- the drab buggy!
A little bit grubby!
The main issue was the lack of foam on the handle. Not only did it look awful (and make the whole buggy look as though it was ancient) but it would also be uncomfortable to push. I took to eBay, and found a seller who stocked replacement foam for less than a tenner- which was delivered the next day! Simply replacing the foam instantly made the buggy seem newer. 
Missing handle foam, revealing ugly scrapes
Betsy all cosy underneath the main seat,
and the new handle
There's a lot to be said for good old-fashioned elbow grease to make pre-loved items seem new. After a vacuum, a scrub and a spritz of Febreeze, it came up spotless.
Taking time to clean the wheels made a big difference!
Now for the colour injection! New seat pads and strap pads are a great way to update a second-hand buggy, making it look new and unique. These are available inexpensively  from loads of sellers online. I opted for a bright colour combination I love- lime green and pink. It's certainly unique, and I'm really pleased with my budget double buggy.

It also occurred to me that doing these simple things before selling your old buggy would add value to it! 
Cherry blossom pink and green
Heather insisting on pushing her little sister! 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

My debut furniture upcycle!

Despite loving everything thrifty and creative, it has taken me this long to attempt upcycling furniture. After one rather successful (and may I say, easy!) project, I am hooked. 

Having now almost completed the transformation of my box room to craft room/ guest room (full post to follow!), I was looking for thrifty storage solutions. I found this little sewing storage box on Gumtree, looking worn, shabby and frankly a bit sorry for itself. However, at a bargainous £12, I saw its potential past the stains and scratches, and snapped it up to give it a new lease of life. 
Before makeover: old-fashioned and dated
The interior fabric and fixings were falling to bits
I unscrewed the lid, and removed all the old fabric from the top. The foam underneath was actually in very good condition, so I was able to reuse it. A few dabs of No More Nails sorted out the wobbly frame, and it was ready for its makeover. 
Hardly any tools required!
The craft room has a modern monochrome, grey, yellow and teal colour palette, so I revamped the box to tie in with this theme. I sanded down the frame, and painted it with a dark grey emulsion I had left over from a previous project. I painted the drawers a bold yellow to match the feature wall in the room and finished them with teal knobs, by mixing acrylic paints.
After the makeover!
I had bought a chevron cushion from an eBay seller, which had a faulty zip when it arrived. The seller replaced it, and told me I could keep the faulty one too. The fabric was perfect for the lid, as it now matches the cushion and the lampshade in the room. It was easy to re-upholster the lid using a wall stapler instead of tacks and a hammer. I uncovered a pretty floral scrap in my fabric basket, and used it to line the underside of the lid- disguising the staples and making it look beautiful! 
Chevron patterned lid
Pretty floral surprise underneath
I'm absolutely delighted with my little sewing storage box. Completely personal and a perfect fit for the room, at a measly £12- the upgrade didn't cost me a penny!